Half a Million Reasons to Treat Every Patient Special

Patient care equals customer care. It’s not that I don’t understand what doctors go through. The job is demanding. Primary care physicians and specialists see a lot of people every day. It takes a special individual to do that job. Yet, I still feel like I am special, too. I am the customer. That alone should be reason enough to get a little face time with my doctor when I schedule a visit. Plus being rude will damage your practice. It could also cost you a lot in the long run.

Take the colonoscopy incident that happened in Reston, Virginia just a couple of years ago. A patient from Vienna went in for a routine colonoscopy and was ridiculed during treatment. How did he know this? The entire colonoscopy was recorded on his smart phone. He pushed record before going under so he could record the doctors remarks post-op and replay them later if he was still a bit fuzzy. The doctors and anesthesiologist made rude remarks about him, mentioned that the rash on his– er, um, well, you know– might be syphilis, and falsified his chart with a hemorrhoid diagnosis upon discharge. That one incident of rude and crude behavior netted him a cool $500,000.

Rude Doctors Are Not En Vogue Anymore

An extreme case for sure, but still worth noting. Why? Well, professional rudeness was en vogue for a certain period of time. Jerome Knyszewski, online reputation expert at Heavyshift Marketing recalls, “There was a time being rude seemed to be a requirement to being a doctor. Now, when medical practices don’t treat patients better, they find out the hard way that an upset patient can cause a lot of damage by posting a negative review online.”

Those days are over though. Patients expect better treatment, and there are ways to cause trouble if we feel slighted. Facebook is one. If we check in to a doctor’s office and get treated poorly, that page will be sporting a negative one star review before we leave the parking lot. Yelp is another popular venue where we have no problem leaving strident comments. If we want to give more detailed criticism we will spend time on sites like Zocdoc and Healthgrades. That could spell trouble.

So how do you keep your social media pages full of gold star reviews? It’s easy. Think like a patient. When you do, you will see why these things do not impress us…

  • A snazzy office
  • The high tech check in kiosk
  • Specialty TV Programming that loops every 10 minutes and drives us insane

We do not want to be impressed. We want to be cared for. To fill your page with glowing remarks and have the best word of mouth advertising on the planet, pay attention to the list that follows. Here are things we love:

Friendly Office Staff. Remember, we are usually nervous when we visit you. In fact, some of us are scared to death. A friendly face helps alleviate those fears. “It’s important to treat each patient the best way, everyday.” says Bob Mangat, CEO & Founder of invigoMEDIA. “Patient satisfaction and experience must be a priority.” From the moment we check in, to the moment we check out, friendly faces will calm us down. This will make your job easier, too. Even if we are sick, we will be polite and calm if we have a great experience.

Something to Do While We Wait. Remember that specialty programming I mentioned earlier? Well, as much as it intrigues you, we can’t stand it. We don’t like television reruns either. They drive us nuts. We  could entertain ourselves though if we had WiFi access. Any doctor’s office with that in place almost always has a full office. We don’t mind waiting if we can occupy our mind. Being able to chat with friends and family over social media, or play a favorite game on our phone or tablet gives us a sense of familiarity. It eases our anxiety.

Also, don’t forget about our kids. Not all of us have the luxury of leaving our kids with someone while we go to the doctor. Having a room of age-appropriate toys or TV programming just for them to watch is golden. We love these kinds of things.

Look at Us. We love face time. When you look at me it does several things. First, it communicates that you are paying attention. Second, it makes me feel like you are more interested in my health. Electronic Medical Records are great, but only 35% of us feel that advancing healthcare technology is a priority for the industry. We like the personal connection that comes when you lay those things down and talk directly to us.

Don’t Look Up Anything in Front of Me. Nothing takes you from M.D. To Dumb-E faster than looking up something in front of me. Step out of the room if you need to consult with Google or your medical lexicon. I would prefer to be left in my own little world where I think all doctors graduate from Harvard Medical School. Looking up the side effects of my medicine in front of me shakes my confidence in you a bit.

We Might Need to Talk Further, Ask Me. Just because I came in for one issue does not mean there are not others. I might be apprehensive to mention them to the office staff, and would rather address them with you directly. I may just have a couple of other minor questions about my health I would like answered before I leave. If not, you can refer me, but just knowing you took time out of your busy schedule to hear my concerns makes me feel important. Sometimes that is more important than the issue I raise. Adds Bob Mangat, “Medications take a while to take effect, but feeling cared for lifts the spirits immediately. For patients, this is priceless.”

These are the kinds of things I love as a patient. I’m not saying if you fail to meet every one I will take you to court for a $500,00 paycheck. No, on the contrary. I look at it differently. I just gave you a prescription for saving half a million dollars every year. When you reach billionaire status, remember your favorite patient helped you get there!